If anybody happens to see New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his subterranean approval ratings meandering the concourses or in an aisle seat at Citizens Bank Park this summer, watching his odious Mets, please buy him a helmet sundae. In fact, wouldn’t it be great if everybody in his section showed the world-class bloviator just how friendly we are by presenting him with a container of soft-serve?
Thanks to years of serial ineptitude by the home teams, an emboldened Christie recently took some potshots at the Phillies and local fans. Granted, hearing him rip into the Phils and call us “an angry, bitter fan base” wasn’t easy. He included himself among the “civilized people” who aren’t safe when they visit CBP to root, root, root for the away team.
But enough about Christie. He can continue rooting for his beloved Mets as they try to win a World Series after failing for the past 30 years.
Instead, let’s focus on the relatively depressing state of Philadelphia sports, which demands our vigilance. We are headed for another year of no playoff teams among our four majors, a condition that makes us pine for the early 1970s. We are beset by front offices that are selling us patience and process, instead of purpose and post-seasons. The Eagles have raised ticket prices again. The Sixers are headed for yet another year of lottery residence and appear more and more as if they are merely pieces in Josh Harris’ investment portfolio. In Sunday’s Inquirer, Sam Carchidi called for a breaking up of the Flyers. And though the Phillies appear to have a plan, they won’t be making a playoff run this season, either.
This leaves fans with a simple mandate: continue to put pressure on the local sides’ front offices. The best way to do that is by refusing to buy tickets, but for some reason, the only fans willing to do that are Phillies customers, who have stayed away consistently since the 2010 apex of 3.77 million fans. Eagles and Flyers fans fill the Linc and the Wells Fargo Center without fail. And, for some reason, the Sixers are able to convince 15,000 or so fans to show up every night, even though the team seems to have a new rebuilding strategy every day and refuses to be honest about players’ injury situations.
Since overpaying for subpar products seems to be preferred behavior for many around here, there must be another path. El Hombre is calling on every dissatisfied Philadelphia fan to channel the same anger that once characterized our town. Every time a team stays below the salary cap floor, rather than importing some players who could help it win, it’s time to howl. When an inept GM signs incompetent free agent cornerbacks who can’t cover anybody and then cuts him, refuse to give him any slack. If a hockey team’s defense isn’t any good several seasons in a row, it’s time to make wholesale changes – on and off the ice. And when a baseball team doesn’t spend any of the $100 million it gets for local TV rights on free agents, fans must speak up.
This is a dark time for the local big four professional teams, and fans can’t merely act as if everything will get better with a little patience. No matter how bad the teams are, their franchise values keep appreciating. Remember that when you are trusting processes and listening to another excuse from a GM. Get angry. Hold these teams accountable. You wouldn’t eat at a restaurant whose product was poor, just because it said it would be better in a couple years, would you? Make sure you let the people who run the teams you love understand that while your affection may be unconditional, you still demand results.
And the next time you see Chris Christie at a Philadelphia concert or sporting event, have pity on him.
After all, he’s a Mets fan.
EL HOMBRE SEZ: This is El Hombre’s last column for a while. He will be on hiatus, communing with other defenders of truth and justice. Fear not, loyal readers: you can still follow EH on Twitter, @DailyHombre.